Rapid Reaction: Saints 31, Colts 17

MIAMI – For a good while it all seemed within reach:

The spot in the conversation with the Patriots and Steelers as the premier franchises in the sport.

The boost to Peyton Manning’s legacy with the coveted second ring.

The Lombardi Trophy for rookie head coach Jim Caldwell.

But a team that mastered the fourth-quarter comeback in the regular season couldn’t muster one at Sun Life Stadium. And rather than solidifying its status, it watched another team break through.

With a 31-17 win, the New Orleans Saints are Super Bowl champions, and the Colts have to come to terms with missing out in a game they tried to win for the first time all season.

The game might have given us the first overtime in Super Bowl history, but on a third-and-5 and the Colts trying to drive for the the tying score, Peyton Manning made a poor throw for Reggie Wayne against a blitz. Cornerback Tracy Porter jumped it, grabbed it and took it 74 yards for a touchdown.

It was the only turnover of the game, and clinched it for the Saints who got a marvelous performance from Drew Brees. He solidified his spot in the conversation of the best quarterbacks in the league right now, and did his part to keep alive the criticism of Manning’s big-game prowess.

I’m certain the Colts will graciously offer congratulations. It’s a team led by classy people.

Then they will kick themselves for months, probably a calendar year’s worth of them. For some, maybe a lot longer than that.